John C. Hansen

Posted on February 5, 2010


For those who look at the “Wall”, John Hansen is just a name among 58,000+.  John Hansen was a real live human-being. He was my first love.

I was just a skinny 14-year-old girl wearing pig-tails and had a big nose as my face was pretty thin. He was my field boss one summer when we were kids picking raspberries and he would play his guitar.  It was 1967 and he was wearing “Battle Fatigues”. He may have been on leave before going to flight training to become a helicopter pilot.

The reason I knew it John Hansen, is that people said that is who he was. He was kind of tall and gangly and at the same time rather nice looking. When I’d get on the old school bus that transported the berry pickers from Cascade Locks to Corbett, I’d be covered with in ripe, juicy berries. John didn’t pay any attention to that skinny little 14-year-old. I wish he could have seen me when I grew up and wasn’t quite so skinny.

In 1969, I saw in the newspaper that John had been shot down in his helicopter over Vietnam. I clipped the newspaper article and kept it in my desk drawer in my bedroom for many years. When I first read the newspaper article I cried and ran outdoors and wrote my first story ” The Boy in the Raspberry Patch”. At 20, I wrote another story called “Sand Castles” about a young soldier who built sand castles with candles in them for a lonely girl he left behind.

My sister said that is why I never found true love because so many of them were killed in that war. I’ve had John with me a lot in my life. I know he is not far away and I will see him again someday.

I read somewhere that a soldiers who dies for freedom never really dies for those who keep them in their hearts. John Hansen is one of those soldiers. Everyone who knew John loved him. I will never forget him.

Some of the stories you mentioned on your website reminded me that John was clearly an asset to our society.
His mother Grace Hansen was a math/algebra teacher at our school and had a love/hate relationship with one Terry Barstad. It was kinky for sure, he set out sharp tacks for her to sit on, and she did. It may not have blossomed after that.
John and I went joy riding in my 1947 Jeep one day. Down to Eagle creek overlook and up the narrow road to the paved parking lot behind the lodge overlooking the mouth of Eagle creek, We spun around and cut some cookies and managed to tip the jeep over onto its side. John hiked or hitched a ride 4 miles back to town and borrowed his mom’s huge Buick. He returned and hooked a rope to the jeep and pulled it back onto its tires. It was in great shape, except for the damaged wooden home made top. I removed that once back home and threw it away. Drove in the rain topless for a couple years, 1963 was a marvelous year. John, class of ’64 CLHS treated my jeep roll over so nonchalantly, he acted like he was in accident every day, calm, collected, with an immediate solution to the problem.
We played basketball on the same JV basketball team, neither of us was too skilled at that. Our coach Don Young was glad we turned out, he didn’t have to sit on the bench alone.
In chemistry class John knew what chemicals would burn, smoke, or blow up when mixed with each other, with water, with air. It was fun watching him do his “experiments” in the back of the chemistry lab.
Him and Barstad kept the class interesting.
John would have made a world-class helicopter pilot, fearless, calm, collected, smart. The golden bb that took out John’s life saved hundreds or thousands of Viet Cong, NVA. & all the other bad guys we fought. John’s lethality would have been legendary.
Today July 15, 2016 marks 47 years since John’s death, we will remember him until our last breath. He was a warrior. He was our friend.
Joe Nolin class of ’65 CLHS    []


John Hansen was assigned to Charlie Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry 1st Cavalry Division (AM) on January 8, 1969 and was Killed In Action on July 15, 1969.   John was a Pilot of an OH-6A Light Observation Helicopter. He was  awarded the following medals for his service: Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and a set of Army Aviator Wings.